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From the Philippines...

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Just one of the few stories about amputee accomplishments in this side of the world.


Amputee gets second chance at life

SOMETIMES accidents come into anyone’s life as a blessing in disguise.

At least this is how Arnold Balais, a 34-year-old, below-the-knee amputee, believes so when he met an untimely mishap several years back that virtually changed his life forever.

A once happy-go-lucky gentleman, Arnold suffered a sudden twist of fate that cost him one leg during a basketball game back in his hometown in Iloilo.

While others see his handicap as a dead end, for Arnold moved to Cebu and realized there was so much for him to explore. Despite his amputated leg, his hopes and dreams have never faltered. He continued to live his life the way people with normal legs do.

Sports became his closest ally. He then started his training on a new passion — power lifting— at Baseline Sports and Recreation Center, and later earned a rare chance to represent the country abroad through the Malaysian Paralympiad.

Gradually, Arnold felt that this was going to be the beginning of a dream that he has been waiting for.

Event after event, the indomitable Arnold Balais never got home empty-handed. In all of the championships that he had entered into since his first crack at the international sports circle, he never fails to bring home medals and other special citations that eventually made him one of the best Paralympian the country has ever had.

Exploring other fields, he has also rigidly trained himself into another grueling sports, which is swimming, and even garnered another chance of donning the country’s colors in an event in Korea and the recently-concluded ASEAN Paragames in Vietnam, where he added another feather to his already-full cap.

Because of his relentless drive to help other differently-abled persons like him and his exemplary feats here and abroad, the Cebu City Government has rightfully recognized Arnold as one of its outstanding individuals in the year 2002. Not only that he has also collected numerous citations from the Sportswriters Association of Cebu-SMC All Cebu Sports Award, and was once recognized by the elite Philippine Sportswriters Association as the 2002 Paralympian of the Year.

In addition to this, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office 7 has considered him an outstanding PWD (Person with Disability) in the field of sports in this year’s celebration of the National Disability Month.

He took the limelight when he crossed the Hilutungan Channel during a fund-raising project by a non-government organization (NGO) which was dubbed ‘‘Swim for a Limb’’ in 2001. So far, he remains the only one-legged athlete to have done such a remarkable exploit.

Presently the interim president of the Philippine Association for Differently-Abled Persons (PHILSPADA) in Region VII, Arnold is busy gearing himself up for next year’s 3rd ASEAN Paragames, which will be hosted by the country in December.

He has openly encouraged other individuals with the same predicament as his to come out of their shells and make a difference in the community. In fact, from time to time, he organizes several seminars and sports competition intended for handicapped people.

Carving ones name in the national, or even in the international sports arena is by no means an easy feat for any athlete, much more for a disabled one. But because of hope, sheer determination and prayer, everything is perfectly falling into Arnold’s life the way he dreams it to be.

His accident may have cost him a leg, but the prize that came thereafter was far more precious than anything the world could offer.


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